Based out of Serbia, Nemanja Bogdanov’s evocative graphic work uses a minimalistic approach to convey powerful emotions. After discovering his work on Tumblr, Mr. Bogdanov answered some of my questions for this month’s artist interview.
BOM: When did you start drawing? Was it always graphic work or have you worked in more traditional mediums?
Bogdanov: I started out as most do, I suppose. When I was a child, the only escapism I really had was drawing, and escapism was a crucial element to have in ’90s post-war Serbia! This included drawing with graphite pencils, ballpoint pens, crayons, felt-tip pens, permanent markers, and any other utensils I could come across in regular life. I’ve maintained the practice and still do pencil drawings from time to time, even though I’ve switched fully to digital a few years back.
BOM: Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
Bogdanov: Inspiration is an omnipresent yet elusive thing, one you can never really count on! That being said, there are a few set sources I keep coming back to. I often cite the philosophy of Emil Cioran as a wellspring of ideas I draw from, for one. I’ve been in combat sports (MMA, Grappling/Submission Wrestling) for almost 10 years now, and, as unlikely as it sounds, a lot of my ideas come after a hard day of practice. I believe it to be instrumental in my work. But all exact examples aside, most of the time inspiration is ephemeral. Most would agree that the greatest paroxysm of creativity comes from a place of intense emotions and difficult experiences, as such is the case for me as well. I honestly believe that the greatest of graphic designers and illustrators are able to harness this emotive and channel it into a commercial project. Something I also aspire to do.
BOM: What’s your process when creating something?
Bogdanov: It usually starts out with an idea which leads to research. In the process, the idea shifts and changes shape in my head until I zone in on something I feel comfortable with. From there it’s usually rough sketches on a piece of paper which serve as a guide for a digital version which goes through a number of stages itself before becoming a finished piece. Depending on what I’m trying to achieve, what message I want to send or what the project brief is, the process usually follows a few simple steps: Idea or Brief > Research > Sketching > Photoshop > Iterations > (Consultation) > (Presentation) Finished Product.
BOM: You’ve made pins with Strike Gently. What was it like working with a company, compared to making designs by yourself?
Bogdanov: I love pins! It’s one of the very few commission projects that I thoroughly loved! Working with StrikeGently has been a treat and I honestly consider that work a personal project just by the amount of freedom and unbridled creativity I’ve been able to get in the course of that collaboration. That being said, working for companies or other people isn’t always easy. Sometimes you have to work with difficult people and produce things that you believe are subpar because it’s what’s asked of you, but that is all in a day’s work. The main difference when making a personal project and a commission is your motivation, it can dictate your course of action. But then again, personal or paid work aside, every project should be viewed on its own and demand its own intuitive and unique approach.
BOM: What software do you use?
Bogdanov: I use a variety of programs. I like to do initial drawings in AutoDesk Sketchbook Pro and layouts in InDesign, but my main two are, as expected, Photoshop and Illustrator.
BOM: How have you changed as an artist after sharing your work online?
Bogdanov: A lot! The positive feedback has been overwhelming! I’ve started a blog on Tumblr a year or two ago just as a place to store my work online, I had no intention or idea for it to take off, since then I’ve garnered some 25 thousand followers that regularly give constructive input on my work that I use to inspire and fuel me to better myself both technically and conceptually. Posting work online can be a really humbling experience. The internet is merciless and the crucible of online scrutiny is a great school for any would-be artist. It has most definitely changed me for the better in many ways!
BOM: What’s the most difficult aspect of being an artist?
Bogdanov: The fine balance between narcissism and crippling self-doubt.
BOM: If you could give any advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Bogdanov: I wouldn’t know where to start! I think I would just slap myself out of frustration.
BOM: Do you have any tips for new artists?
Bogdanov: “The comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there” This is the single biggest advice I’d ever dare give any artist. One must resist the trepidation to grow! Refinement demands mistakes. Be aware of that and never let yourself stagnate.
BOM: Where can people find your work?
Bogdanov: I’m mostly on Tumblr and Instagram and I’ve neglected my Behance, which is something I intend to rectify in the coming period. I also plan on launching my own website soon. Keep an eye out!
BOM: Do you sell your work online/can someone commission a piece from you?
Bogdanov: I do. Some of my personal projects are up for sale, but I’m available for commission and freelance work most of the time. You can contact me via social media or through my email: Nemanja.Bogdanov89@gmail.com.